blackjewel

Campbell County

Campbell County Commissioners have used a new law for the first time to recoup some of the county's legal fees from bankruptcies.

Wikimedia Commons

Televangelists Joel and Victoria Osteen will visit Gillette this month to speak with community members about hope following recent coal bankruptcies.

Cooper McKim

Darlene Rea worked in Blackjewel's warehouse before the company filed for bankruptcy on July 1. I spoke with her earlier this summer when she was struggling to find a job. Months later, she still never found one.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) will soon become the operator of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines. The affiliate of FM coal will receive $81.3 million from Contura Coal West in order to take over all reclamation liabilities and operator-ship.

Eagle Butte mine post-bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) can't close on its deal to own and operate two Wyoming mines just yet. The affiliate of Ohio-based FM Coal hit a snag in its attempts to replace surety bonds for the mines; an agreement that guarantees clean-up costs.

Judge Frank Volk approving the closure of Blackjewel's sale of western assets to Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC
Prime Clerk

Prior to bankruptcy, the federal government was investigating Blackjewel, LLC for possible fraud. The U.S Attorney's Office was concerned the coal company may use a reorganization to get out of debts owed to the government. In other words, that it was violating the False Claims Act. Court filings show Blackjewel owes several federal agencies upwards of $50 million.

Coal mines north and east of Gillette Campbell County Airport, including the Eagle Butte Mine
Public Domain

Judge Frank Volk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has approved Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) as the buyer of Blackjewel's western assets including the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines. ESM is an affiliate specifically formed by Ohio-based FM Coal to purchase the assets.

Campbell County Commission Meeting
Campbell County

Three months since Blackjewel LLC filed for bankruptcy, a new company is set to close a deal this week and take over the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines. At a Campbell County Commission meeting, Carol Seeger, the county administrative director, said Eagle Specialty Materials LLC is expected to close on its sale order this Friday, October 4.

WY Insurance Department
The State of Wyoming Insurance Department

Former Blackjewel miners can now obtain a retroactive health insurance plan from the federal government. That means if a worker applies now for federal health insurance, it can count towards treatment starting September 1.

On August 31, Blackjewel terminated health insurance plans for hundreds of furloughed coal miners after filing for bankruptcy earlier this summer.

Eagle Butte mine post-bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

Contura Energy has entered into an agreement with an Alabama coal company to take over the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines in the Powder River Basin. The deal is dependent on Contura reaching a resolution with the federal government and other entities in court to become the owner of both mines.

Inspection Log From DEQ
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality says Contura Energy does not have to revise its permit to mine or for reclamation plans right now.

It comes in response to an August 28 complaint from the Powder River Basin Resource Council (PRBRC), a landowners' group, arguing the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines have been inactive for enough time without seeing updated relevant plans that Contura is in violation of state and federal rules.

Letter sent to Blackjewel employees September 9
Blackjewel LLC

After weeks of little information from a West Virginia court, Blackjewel could soon be welcoming back its western employees. Workers received a letter with the company's letterhead yesterday, September 9, with the subject, "Possible Recall of Furloughed Blackjewel Workers of Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte Facilities."

Cooper McKim

On a bright morning outside Gillette, Darlene Rea is getting ready to job search. She might visit Sheridan this afternoon. Until two months ago, Rea worked in Blackjewel's warehouse - receiving freight, writing invoices and finding parts. But since the coal company's abrupt bankruptcy, she's been stuck looking for work.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

When Blackjewel announced its bankruptcy earlier this summer, it put nearly 600 people from two mines in Campbell County out of work. Those workers lost their health insurance on August 31.

Contura Energy logo
Contura Energy

Contura Energy is not yet the owner of Blackjewel's two Wyoming mines. But, in an earnings call, the company did give insight into their expectations for the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines.

The logo set on letters regarding 401(k) termination
Blackjewel

The West Virginia court overseeing Blackjewel's bankruptcy has authorized the end of 401(k) plans for all the company's miners. It was one condition of Contura Energy's purchase of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines. Many Blackjewel workers responded to the news with thanks on Facebook, one commenting "Hallelujah."

Blackjewel LLC Operations
Prime Clerk

On August 6, West Virginia Judge Frank Volk approved the motion for Contura Energy to purchase Blackjewel's assets in Wyoming pending resolution of tax conflicts with the federal government. In a Blackjewel filing, it wrote a sale to Contura would keep both Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines open "for an estimated minimum of six to twelve years."

Screenshot from Interior's Response to a Contura Sale
Prime Clerk

U.S. District Judge in West Virginia Frank Volk has approved the motion for Contura Energy to purchase Blackjewel LLC's two Wyoming mines: Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr. Though, there are still hoops to jump through. The court will need to settle a lasting issue with the federal government along with remaining challenges with title and lease transfers.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Judge Frank Volk has approved Contura Energy as the stalking horse bidder of Blackjewel's Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, along with a mining complex in West Virginia. The company will put down a deposit of $8.1 million to fund the sale process and pay another $12.5 assuming no party outbids them. Contura's offer is now set as the low bar, or stalking horse, bid.

Contura Energy logo
Contura Energy

Three weeks after filing for Chapter 11 reorganization, coal company Blackjewel L.L.C. has a plan to keep operating some of its mines. Contura Energy is willing to put down the money to become the stalking horse bidder and potentially take over and operate several mines including Wyoming's Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr. Contura already holds the mining permits and reclamation bonds for the two mines.

Blackjewel's Eagle Butte mine shipments in 2017
U.S. Energy Information Administration

On July 5, Travis McRoberts, an attorney representing the recently bankrupt coal company Blackjewel, gave insight into a reorganization plan.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

Blackjewel employees in Wyoming could soon miss their second payday; it's approaching quickly on July 26. The recently bankrupt coal company has already passed one payday on July 12 since filing for Chapter 11 reorganization on the first of July.

Coal mines north and east of Gillette Campbell County Airport, including the Eagle Butte Mine
Public Domain

Blackjewel L.L.C. will be able to draw on $2.9 million in additional short-term funding to keep its bankruptcy proceedings alive. A West Virginia bankruptcy court held an emergency hearing for stakeholders to present their case for or against the proposal.

Blackjewel map of operations
Prime Clerk

Blackjewel L.L.C is about to enter its fourth week since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the less orderly, Chapter 7 liquidation, option is still on the table. Creditors for the company have now submitted a proposal for more short-term money as they continue negotiating a long-term debtor-in-possesion financing plan.

Rory Wallett stationed in his office since July 1. This is where he's spent most of his time coordinating with workers around the country
Cooper McKim

More than a week has passed since Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy and sent home 576 workers. They're still waiting to hear if they're laid off or heading back to work soon. Employees are stuck in limbo, but many are not struggling to keep busy.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

The laid-off employees of bankrupt Blackjewel mining are filing a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Hourly rates for Squire Patton Boggs attorneys, the debtors counsel
Prime Clerk

Blackjewel has yet to publicly announce any plans to reopen the gates at Eagle Butte or Belle Ayr mines this week. That would require a hearing to confirm long-term debtor-in-posession (DIP) financing - an elusive prospect for a company that's struggled to secure much cash in court.

Informational session held for former Blackjewel employees
Cooper McKim

Former Blackjewel workers still have health insurance. Twenty to 30 percent of dislocated employees have found new jobs. Not all mine customers have abandoned Blackjewel. That's the good news coming from Brandy Elder, Blackjewel's Human Resources manager, at an information session in Gillette on Monday.

Blackjewel LLC Operations
Prime Clerk

A shovel operator named J.D. Dietsche went to work at the Eagle Butte coal mine, owned by Blackjewel, on July 1 expecting a normal day. It wasn’t long before he learned that would not be the case.

Prime Clerk logo
Prime Clerk

It's been two days since Blackjewel LLC abruptly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and locked the gates at its two Wyoming mines. It turned out the West Virginia private company was in a more financially dire situation than many knew. The early stages did not go as planned, but the presiding judge has approved $5 million in interim funds.

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